Four Tips to Build Your Business According to Founders of a Successful Scientific Animation Studio
Founded in 2005 by husband and wife team Cameron and Olivia Slayden, Microverse Studios produces scientific short films for pharmaceutical and biotech companies to explain deep scientific concepts. Their work isn’t your typical animation fare. Instead of characters or spaceships or cool abstractions, the Microverse Studios team creates animations showing how molecules and cells interact, and they have to get every detail right.
1. Identify Your Value Proposition.
Is your product better because it’s cheap? Convenient? Fast-turnaround? Ultra-high quality? According to CEO and Creative Director Cameron Slayden it’s best to make that decision in the beginning because it will guide the decisions you make as you build out your infrastructure.
“We decided early on to focus on high-end imagery rather than being the cheapest. The idea is, that we’d rather focus on the quality of the project rather than volume. That dictated the equipment we had to build and maintain, as well as who we would bring onboard as we grew our team.”
2. Get the Right Talent
Whether you run a factory or an animation studio, you’re going to need to hire people to do the work. A business model that depends on top-performing talent means that you’ll need to set your product price point higher to compensate for the costs of doing business. A business model that depends on undercutting the competition’s prices requires every cost to be cut, including the kind of talent you can afford. Slayden believes this is something you can’t afford to get wrong.
“Because our value proposition is quality of the end product, our pool of potential talent is way smaller. We have to be extremely picky about who we hire because in the end, our clients will look at what we say we can do and what we actually do, and make their judgment about whether or not to use us.”
3. Do the Market Research
What are other similar companies doing out there? What needs are they not filling that you can fill? Is there an underserved component of the customer base?
Most companies don’t have a radical new idea or product (which would come with its own headaches while the general public decides whether or not to adopt it). That means that you won’t be alone, and you have to come up with a reason that your customer base will want to choose you rather than the competition. Carefully examining what the current customer experience is will give you insights into how to improve it in your own offerings.
Speaking about his own initial market research, Cameron says, “In the biotech and pharmaceutical industries, a lot of reputations are at stake. Errors can be very costly to our clients, and by focusing on combining scientific authority, accuracy, and jaw-dropping visuals, we were able to fill an underserved niche in the market.”
4. Get to know your customer’s motivations
This one sounds intuitive, but it’s not. You shouldn’t just ask what your customers need, you should look at all of the problems that they are trying to solve and where your product fits in their approach to solutions.
According to Cameron, “If you’re selling shirts, you need to know what pants your customers are also buying so that what you make looks good with them. The same is true for Microverse Studios’ scientific animations. We look at everything our clients are doing, from pitch decks to tradeshow booths and web design, and make sure that what we produce is designed to fit perfectly with everything they do. That’s how you get repeat customers– you’re the known quantity that does everything right the first time. Why would your customers go anywhere else?”
At the core of all of these principles is understanding who you plan to market your product to, understanding their needs, and building your infrastructure to support your plan to meet those needs. Whether it’s agricultural supplies or scientific animation, Cameron and Olivia’s principles will set you on the right path to success.